As I left work in the afternoon, I felt my contact lens bunch up into the corner of my eye. I blinked a few times, contemplated getting off the freeway to fix it, and then decided it wasn’t that bad.
By the time I was on the 520 bridge, both eyes were watering. I squeezed the painful one shut, and attempted to focus on the road—my depth perception moving from adequate to useless.
Just make it to the first exit; you’re fine, I said as two more cars passed me and the throbbing in my head picked up.
My pep talk lost its final steam as I saw that exit was closed for construction.
It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine.
I knew I was in trouble, because who needs to say, “it’s fine” three times, unless it’s not?
Now the tears were really coming, and I could barely see the road ahead. My head ached. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but here I was on a busy freeway with only a fuzzy sense of what was in front of me.
When I finally got off the freeway and found a side street to park on, my whole body felt exhausted. It had taken every ounce of energy and focus to get here. To survive.
When I slid the contact back into place, I leaned my head against the headrest and exhaled. The ache remained for a moment, but the stinging in my eye was gone. As I wiped my face, I could see a robin pecking at the earth. For a moment, his head and neck stretched taut as he looked and listened for something I could neither see nor hear, and then he bent over again to dig.
Watching him, I felt—more than heard—this question: Do you see how much you miss when your vision is off?
The rest of the drive home—a really boring drive that I do every single day—was suddenly glorious. I couldn’t believe all the things I noticed. Places where the concrete was different colors. The curve of the road. The trees. The mountains off in the distance. The houses down in the valley that looked like cereal boxes from this angle.
Our pastor has been talking about prayer.
A call to be still and listen before opening our mouths, before plowing through our days, before attempting to do what we want or think is best. How counter it is to be still in the overwhelming rush of noise surrounding us. How counter it is to pray when there is so much to do—both practically and metaphorically.
I am, like many, overwhelmed right now. Aghast at the cruelty in our world—heavy in my heart at the way it seems to be accelerating, confused about what to do and what to say. Heartbroken at the division.
On Sunday, I did not want to go to church. I wanted to stay in my own house. Walled off and cozy in my living room. I didn’t have it in me to be out there around people. But we went, and I wept. Through every word of every song, I bawled like a baby. When we read through the Garden of Gethsemane account—the agony of prayer and steady, heartbroken vision of Jesus—I cried again.
I know that words without actions are hollow, and words without love are like a high-pitch whistle in an already screeching, hollering, bellowing world, but this year—a year of such agony and upheaval—I am investing in prayer.
The new vision.
The cost of following through on that vision.
I know it will cost something, because vision always does. Once you see, you cannot unsee. Once you know, you cannot unknown.
CLAIRE CAREY DEERING believes less is more, in writing and in life.